Spin-off 8

The Basingstoke Canal: Woking to Fleet
Hilliness
Flat
Ride Conditions
Good
Unsurfaced
Percent Off-road
95%
Distance
16.6 miles
Signed
NCN 221

Tags

Stations
Description

The Basingstoke Canal is a wonderful resource for walkers, cyclists and river craft through the considerable urban sprawl of cycle-friendly Woking, and beyond. Its first miles provide the final (RH fork) section of Spoke 6 and the start of Arc 8b; this spinoff is the ensuing central miles from the Woking suburb of St John's to Fleet. However the towpath is cycleable - and navigable - on as far as Odiham, which is beyond Cycle Orbital territory. The whole ride is unusually rich in birdlife - the kingfisher is the canal's symbol - and treelined almost throughout, whether passing through suburbs or open country.

Not much navigational help needed here – the canal is your guide, apart from two short road traverses when the towpath changes bank. Until Brookwood 3.6 the surface is largely metalled, and a speed respectful of walkers should be maintained (cycling signs indicating commuting times in minutes have led to conflict issues). It is possible to detour on weekdays here at the Bagshot Road, cross under the railway, and ride (respectfully) through Brookwood Cemetery, the extravagant project of the London Necropolis Company (and Necropolis Railway!) in the 1850's. A path at the northwestern corner takes you to Dawney Hill where after the railway bridge you resume the towpath, a mile or so further on.

After Brookwood the surface is variable, but mostly good, and the canal rises through a lock sequence and then through a deep cut at Deepcut before turning south and crossing B3012 at 7.2 Frimley Green. The Basingstoke Canal centre at Mytchett 7.9 makes an excellent stop-off, where you can learn more about the canal's history (one of almost instant commercial failure, it has to be said, so its revival as a leisure resource since the 1970's is to be all the more grateful for).

The southern detour is necessitated by the need to cross the River Blackwater valley by aqueduct 10.6 at Ash, after which the westerly route is resumed. Fleet is reached through fine countryside near the military lands of Aldershot and Farnborough airfield. The station is a mile away through the town centre.

Route
Basingstoke Canal at St John's: Spin-off 8
A showery day on the Basingstoke Canal: Spin-off 8
Activity at lock 21, Pirbright: Spin-off 8
Alternative transport, Basingstoke Canal: Spin-off 8